It’s been nearly four years since HTC and Facebook’s (NASDAQ:FB) Oculus launched this generation of virtual reality (VR) with the Vive and Rift headsets,
What was your scariest “something’s not right” moment?
There I was, sitting in a strange house I had never seen before, sitting awfully close to a guy whose name I was sure I didn’t know, trying to figure out how to read the word “Player 2” at the top of the Battleship game, on this stranger’s phone.
Now, let’s rewind an hour and also provide some back story.
I live in Southern California but had traveled to Connecticut with my boyfriend for his close friend’s wedding. The last night we were in town, we decided to drive to Massachusetts, (a state I had never been) to visit another good friend of his.
Everything was going well that evening, good food, good people, good conversation, etc.
Sometime late in the night after most people had left or gone to bed, I had quickly sat/jumped back into a big comfy chair, completely forgetting said chair was sitting right beneath a wooden staircase banister, at perfect back-of-the-noggin level.
While animatedly jumping into my seat, I also apparently very animatedly slammed the back of my skull into said wooden overhang.
My boyfriend freaked out, jumped up and grabbed my head while his friend sat across from me with the most stunned look on his face yelling “Are you okay?”.
(Now, it’s important to note thatthat causes chronic severe pain so my pain tolerance is very high.)
I thought they were being dramatic and brushed them off. After all, I wasn’t really in any pain and the only thing startling was the sound of my hard skull making contact with the hard wood.
I assure the guys I’m fine and we continue on in our conversation about virtual reality and the potential future for virtual reality and I forget all about my little “bump”.
Now, at this point I’ve been traveling for a week, I’m exhausted and it’s late at night so things often get fuzzy for me when that happens.
During the course of our conversation, I remember having some very good arguments in regards to possibilities of future AI reality. In the beginning of the conversation, I was really getting my point across to the guys, but at some time during the course of an hour, I began having trouble expressing my thoughts, and our friend even pointed out that he thought I was confused about what I was explaining at one point.
Okay, no big deal, it’s super late and I should probably be getting to bed anyway.
Our friend sees himself to bed so now it’s just my boyfriend and myself hanging out.
“Let’s go to bed, I am really, really tired and out of it.” I say to my boyfriend.
“How about we play a game of Battleship on my phone first?” he says while looking at me, slightly leery.
I was really exhausted and knew we had a plane to catch the next day but Battleship was a special thing between us and I couldn’t really say no to one game, could I?
So we’re playing Battleship and I’m winning! What! I never win this game!!!
The screen switches seamlessly at the top from “Player 1” to “Player 2”. I begin having trouble remembering which player I was.
“Oh right, I am Player 2.” I thought to myself. “Man, I am reallllly tired and out of it.”
As the game goes on, I realize I am having trouble really reading the word “Player 2” but again brush it off.
Then, I won the game!
“OH MY GOD I WON I WON I NEVER WIN!” I scream at excitement at the guy sitting next to me.
Wait….the guy sitting next to me.
Who is this guy sitting next to me?
He looks familiar but I just can’t remember his name or place where I know him from.
Wait, this house doesn’t seem familiar either.
Okay, that’s okay, we must be on a first date at his house. Just play it cool and if you don’t remember his name in a minute, just politely ask him to tell you again.
It’s just……not coming to me.
I turn, smile sweetly, and say “I am so very sorry, but I can’t really remember your name?”
You know when people say the color drained from someone’s face? Well, the color drained from his face and a look of shock and confusion replaced it.
“This is a joke, right? You’re kidding me right now?” he desperately asks. “You know my name! I AM YOUR BOYFRIEND, GLENN*!” (name changed for privacy)
So there I sit, fairly calmly and quietly while trying to remember his name was Glenn and he was my boyfriend, while assuring him I was fine and just out of it and “joking”.
I was out of it and joking, right? …….. RIGHT?
Just then he gets a call and leaves the room for a minute (we had been trying to change our plane tickets and the airline called back).
I hear him on the phone and I am sitting on the couch and just trying desperately to remember whose house I am in.
“What was that guy’s name again, I already forgot? Did he drug me? This must be a first date and he drugged me. Okay, play it cool and you’ll figure out a way to get out of here safe.” I think to myself, starting to panic a bit.
Just then, he walks back into the room.
I look at him and I realize he’s a total stranger.
He looks back at me with a worried look, still on the phone, and rushes over to the couch to sit next to me.
“I’m so sorry, I really can’t remember your name.” I say again. The fear returns to his face.
“Well what’s your name?” he asks me.
My name? Ummm…. what IS my name?
“Erin! You’re Erin! Erin Ramona!” (Not my real last name :p) he says, more than a little upset. “Where are we right now?!?” he continues.
Okay. Yes, I have definitely been drugged. Who is this guy I am with, what house am I in and how did I get here!
He’s holding my hand when I look up and feel that ever familiar burn of tears filling my eyes while I gulp in a panicked breath and finally admit out loud:
“Again, I am so sorry but I think something is really, really wrong.”
Okay, full blown panic mode. I said it calmly but my shaking hand in his definitely betrayed my calm exterior.
“Babe, you hit your head and I think we need to take you right to the hospital.”
Now, remember how before this, when I hit my head, we were in the midst of a very deep conversation on virtual reality?
Oh. My. God. I knew what was wrong! I was in a virtual reality simulation and I’ve completely gone off my rocker! I am having a psychotic break and that’s why I don’t remember who I am!
Okay, it’s okay. You can cry and shake a little bit but don’t tell this strange guy you’re with that you’re having a mental breakdown. That’s not a good idea. Just play it cool and play it off and doing some breathing exercises because you’re really losing your mind.
(The brain does funny things when it’s injured and swollen tight, pressing hard against your skull.)
After asking Glenn the same round of questions 5 times in a row where I could only tell you my name because he had told me (and he didn’t tell me my middle name so who knew what the was?), he decided to wake up his friends, who I also did not recognize, who also answered my same round of questioning and someway, somehow, convinced me to go to the hospital with only slight resistance.
Again, I was convinced I was having a nervous breakdown and I didn’t want to embarrass myself at the hospital for a silly little anxiety attack.
But okay, fine, I’ll go. So they help me get dressed, put on my shoes, and in the car we go.
OH SH*T I AM BEING KIDNAPPED. STAY CALM.
We arrive at the hospital, I still don’t know who I am or where I am or really even who this guy is. He seemed trustworthy and I thought I knew him but I still couldn’t place him.
Oh no, oh no. He’s crying! He’s hurt! I’m crying! What’s happening?!
Forgetting the entire situation all over again, I drew the conclusion that something was wrong with him and that we were at the hospital to get help for him! Why was no one helping him?!
Ha, silly me.
“Ouch, oh my god, my head is THROBBING!” I think as I am sitting in the waiting room, watching this strange guy fill paperwork out, still trying to wrap my head around….well….everything.
And here’s this guy, who I am sure I know, but I can’t really figure it out, red eyed, filled with fear, tears streaming down his face, just holding my hand and telling me it’s going to be alright.
Okay, so maybe he didn’t drug me, maybe I’m safe.
“Please keep holding my hand and don’t let go.” I cry to him. “I don’t know you or know what’s happening but your hand is the only thing makes me feel safe right now.”
“I’m not leaving your side, Erin! I’m not leaving your side ever. I’ll take care of you.” he says so compassionately and sincerely, with the tears still streaming and the worry still written all over his face.
A few brain scans and several very confused hours later, in a very terrible incompetent hospital, with what may have been some small repeated seizures, a constant cycle of fear and questions of “Who are you? Where am I? and I think something is really, really wrong!” and many, many hours later, I was starting to somewhat consistently remember that my name was Erin, I was 34 and I was on vacation in Massachusetts when I hit my head, sustaining a very severe concussion and subsequently losing all memory.
Both my mother and my boyfriend have lived through very, very severe, life threatening brain bleeds, my boyfriend’s requiring a craniotomy, so when I hit my head and slowly lost all memory, my boyfriend feared the worst and was worried I had a brain bleed and could be having a stroke. I can’t even imagine the fear and pain he was experiencing, watching the girl he loved forget everything she knew.
At the end of the day, I am so grateful I did not have any bleeding and will hopefully make a 100% recovery.
I learned a few things that day and the days following as I started to regain my memory.
- Brain injuries are hard. Reallly hard. Losing all memory of your entire life is even harder. And the headaches? Oh lord, the headaches! The dizziness! The blurred vision in my right eye from all the pressure. The weakness in my knees that wouldn’t let me stand. And the nausea? Hollllllly moly. Recovering from a brain injury is hard.
- Remembering your life all over again is kind of cool though. Wait…..I drive my dream truck?! Are these super cool tie-dyed vans MINE? I have LONG HAIR? I HAVE LONG HAIR! OMG I HAVE BEAUTIFUL LONG HAIR!!!! Seeing yourself in a mirror after you lose your memory is a very, very weird experience.
- Flying on an airplane, 3 days post severe concussion is a very painful, hard, dizzying experience, made even worse by the fact that I couldn’t sleep on the plane, wasn’t allowed to read books or play on my phone and basically just had to sit and wait it out while feeling like I was going to barf the entire contents of my stomach on the plane and faint, simultaneously.
- Sustaining a brain injury while 3,000 miles away from home, with a guy you have only dated for a few months, who doesn’t leave your side for a second, takes care of you for days on end bringing you endless glasses of icy, icy water (my fav!), holding your hand pretty much every second of the day to keep you somewhat grounded in reality, rubbing your back while you’re crying and your body shakes uncontrollably….that? That my friends is love. And that man is what you’d call a keeper. Nothing like a serious medical scare to solidify a new(ish) relationship.
I may still get confused here and there and forget some things I shouldn’t be forgetting but one thing I know for sure: I’m keeping this one for life.
Edit: Wow! Almost 4,000 upvotes! Not only am I surprised but I am also incredibly honored and I am glad that everyone loves our love story! Thank you for all the votes, shares and comments, it means so much to us!
Edit #2: Several months (and unfortunately several hospital visits) later and I still love this guy more than ever and know I’m so very lucky to have him in my life.
Thank you to everyone who has loved and shared our love story!
Here’s a picture of us on Thanksgiving, still very much in love: